For centuries, the legendary tale of Robin Hood has been intrinsically linked with the ancient trees of Sherwood Forest. Beginning in the 15th century and possibly even earlier, Robin Hood’s illustrious story has been told over and over again through ballads, books and films. Take a trip to Sherwood Forest to uncover the fascinating folklore behind the man himself.
Cemented in British folklore, Robin Hood is one of the world’s most enduring and recognisable folk heroes. There are few people in the English-speaking world who don’t know who Robin Hood is. He is consistently depicted in books, films and television shows, but who was he and why is he famous?
According to legend, Robin Hood was an outlaw who lived in Sherwood Forest, in the heart of Nottinghamshire, with his fellow ‘Merry Men’. Most depictions of Robin Hood portray him dressed head to toe in forest green and with his trusty bow and arrow – in fact, it is said that he was the best archer that ever lived and could hit targets from long distances with acute accuracy.
As the centuries have passed, Robin Hood has collected more unique characteristics, fabled stories and surrounding characters. Historical records have failed to confirm or deny whether Robin Hood was actually the hero we depict him as. But if medieval English folklore is anything to go by, he is one of the England’s most celebrated anti-heroes.
Despite being the subject of much debate, it’s generally accepted that Robin Hood lived in England during the reign of King Richard the Lionheart. Although modern popular culture depicts him as a stark supporter of the King during the late 12th century, the first literary reference to Robin Hood didn’t appear until 1377.
According to the Sloane manuscripts, Robin Hood was born in 1160 in Lockersley (most likely modern day Loxley) in South Yorkshire. Some chroniclers say he fought in the Crusades alongside the Lionheart before returning to England to find his lands seized by the evil Sheriff of Nottingham.
As well as being a fantastic archer, Robin Hood is arguably best known for stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. Being an outlaw in Nottinghamshire, Robin Hood fought for the rights of the oppressed against the sheriff.
According to legend, Robin spent a lot of time near Whitby in Yorkshire – now known as Robin Hood’s Bay. It was here that he had a friendly archery contest with Little John, chief lieutenant and second-in-command of the Merry Men.
Over the course of the last few centuries, Sherwood Forest and Robin Hood have become synonymous with one another. Hundreds of thousands of tourists flock to the forest each year to learn more about the setting for these famous stories.
Famed for its historic association with local folk hero Robin Hood, Sherwood Forest is a royal forest in Nottinghamshire. This area has been wooded since the end of the Last Glacial Period and today, Sherwood Forest National Nature Reserve encompasses over 1,000 acres of forestry.
With fascinating history, meandering cycling trails and glistening lakes, over 350,000 tourists visit Sherwood Forest each year.
Widely acknowledged as the home and setting for Robin Hood’s most famous adventures, Sherwood Forest inspires countless visitors to discover the home of this local folk hero. Walk beneath the towering ancient oak trees and envisage the place that Robin and his Merry Men called their home, hunting ground and hiding place.
Although heavily associated with Sherwood Forest, Robin Hood pops up all over the English map: Robin Hood’s Well and Robin Hood’s Bay are in Yorkshire, while Robin Hood’s Cave and Robin Hood’s Stop are in Derbyshire.
If you feel inspired to find out more about Robin Hood, the Merry Men and their exploits in Sherwood Forest, then there’s no place better to visit than the forest itself. Strap on your walking boots and wander through the forest until you arrive at the Major Oak. With a trunk measuring over 10 metres in circumference, the Major Oak is over 1000 years old and was previously voted as Britain’s favourite tree. It is said that Robin and his Merry Men would sleep under this very tree.
Aside from reminders of Robin Hood, Sherwood Forest is also home to walking and cycling trails, Go Ape, open air concerts and adventure play areas. There is also an annual Robin Hood Festival, exhibiting jousting, archery, sword fights and live action performances from Robin Hood and his Merry Men.
Nestled in the heart of Sherwood Forest, our Sherwood Pines campsite is the perfect base from which to explore the surrounding woodland. With over 150 pitches across 20 acres, Sherwood Pines is a full-facilities campsite with glamping units and pods available too.
Feeling inspired to sleep beneath the same ancient trees as Robin Hood? Take a look at everything our wonderful Sherwood Pines campsite has to offer. If you’re looking for more activities to try during your stay, take a look at some of our other favourite things to do in Sherwood Forest.
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